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Research finds turning off air conditioning during the day can save money

Earns United Technologies
Posted at 4:42 PM, Sep 15, 2022

Extreme heat is becoming more common, and Americans are trying to cool down without breaking the bank.

New research recommends turning off the air conditioning while you're at work.

"You could save over ten percent on an annual basis in a really hot climate like Phoenix," said Ash Pigott, a Ph.D. student at the University of Colorado who worked on the research.

Pigott and her team simulated the energy use of an average home in Arizona and Georgia.

They look at three different scenarios: Someone who left the air conditioning on all day, someone who turned it off for four hours, and someone who turned it off for a "full work day" (eight hours).

Homes that turned off the air for eight hours saw the greatest energy savings.

The difference could add up to a couple of bucks a month.

"There's been some concern over people who have pets that are home all day or people who aren't gone for exactly eight hours," Pigott said. "I think that those are reasonable concerns. But I would encourage them that setting it back even a few degrees can still have savings."

The research also looked at efficiency across different types of air conditioners.

Research also found that overall usage was much lower among air source heat pumps and mini-splits.

"People can't believe [the heat pumps] are much more efficient," Pigott said. "But they really are because they're just trying to keep running at the most efficient level."

Pigott said it might be worth considering a smart thermometer to maximize cost savings in the home.

"You can set the temperature to come down by the time you get home at five," Pigott said. "So you're not seeing any of that heat. You're walking into a nice cool house."